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Music Ministry Degree Program Overviews

Oct 12, 2019

Music ministry degrees are most commonly offered at the bachelor's and master's degree levels, but doctoral programs are available too. Learn about each program option, coursework and employment opportunities.

Essential Information

Bachelor's degree-level students of music ministry learn skills in conducting and directing, evangelism, choir administration and worship program organization. Master's degree programs in music ministry include more advanced theological and musical studies. Doctoral degree programs in music ministry provide students with an advanced understanding of music missions in churches.

Graduates are prepared for positions in churches, schools and other places of worship. What's needed to apply for admission will differ by program. Some schools require an orientation session prior to consideration for admittance to their music ministry bachelor's degree program. Other possible prerequisites include character references and a biographical essay. To apply for master's degree programs in music ministry, students are typically required to have basic skills in music theory, conducting and history. Students may also be required to audition or provide recorded performances. Prospective students of music ministry doctoral degree programs typically must demonstrate musical skill and may be required to provide an audition tape and eventually audition on-campus. Written placement examinations, letters of recommendation, prerequisite courses meeting minimum GPA requirements and full-time music ministry experience are also required or encouraged by some schools.

To gain hands-on experience in music ministry, undergraduate students may be involved in internships or performances. Flexible scheduling is available for upper level degrees. Master's degree can take up to 6 years for summer only programs. Comprehensive examinations and a treatise or dissertation with defense are a culminating portion of some doctorate programs.


Bachelor's Degree in Music Ministry

Bachelor's degree-level students of music ministry learn skills in conducting and directing, evangelism, choir administration and worship program organization. These programs also equip students with the leadership skills needed to run an effective music ministry program and prepare students for continuing studies in graduate degree studies. Graduates are awarded a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree.

Bachelor's degree programs introduce music ministry and biblical theories and philosophies. Courses might include:

  • Music theory
  • Music history
  • Christianity fundamentals
  • Theology
  • Worship arts foundations

Master's Degree in Music Ministry

Some schools offer specific concentrations in areas such as instrumental, oral or choral conducting. Flexible scheduling is available and can include evening and summer-only sessions. Program length varies by the student's schedule and attendance. Graduates are awarded a Master of Sacred Music (MSM), Master of Music (M.Mus.) or Master of Divinity (M.Div.).

Master's degree-level studies in music ministry provide advanced theological, pastoral and musical coursework and they typically require recitals or performances in the program. Some of the courses include:

  • Pastoral music
  • Liturgical music roles and history
  • Pedagogy
  • Vocal and choral techniques
  • Church music composing and arranging

Ph.D. in Music Ministry

The Ph.D. programs emphasize teaching church music, studies and elevating students to the highest level of education in music ministry. Some colleges develop a personal program of study with the student. Also, some have a maximum time limit for completion and minimum grade point average (GPA) requirement while attending. A residency may also apply, requiring a specific number of hours of on-campus attendance. Typical degrees awarded upon graduation include a Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) in Sacred Music, Doctor of Music Ministry (D.Min.) or Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Church Music.

Advanced music ministry doctoral classes focus on research, history, theory, theology and seminary studies. Typical courses include:

  • Sacred church music colloquium
  • Ministry practices
  • Church music history
  • Education in music
  • Music history research

Popular Career Options

Some possible positions with a bachelor's degree in music ministry include:

  • Choir director
  • Church music program administrator
  • Church musical conductor

A doctoral degree in music ministry provides more options for employment. Some areas include:

  • Music ministry instructor
  • Worship arts researcher
  • Music missionary

Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), religious organizations are among the highest employers of musicians and singers in 2018. In general, musicians and singers could expect to see a 0% growth in employment form 2018-2028. The BLS also reported in May of 2018, musicians and singers working for religious organizations earned a mean hourly wage of $37.51 (www.bls.gov).

Students interested in music ministry can study at the bachelor's, master's and doctorate levels in order to become music ministry instructors, directors and more. Graduates can expect slower-than-average, but positive job growth in the field.

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